Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis has now escalated into a massive international, humanitarian and political catastrophe with hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar. Amid increasing international criticism, Myanmar’s civilian leader – and Nobel peace prize winner – Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to give a speech on Tuesday in which she will address the Rohingya crisis.
Magnus Fiskesjö, an associate professor in Cornell University’s department of anthropology and expert on Southeast Asia, says that if no policy reversal comes from Myanmar’s government, the country’s leadership would set a grave precedent and risks regional destabilization.
“Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis has now escalated into a massive international humanitarian and political catastrophe, with about 400,000 Rohingya forcibly expelled to Bangladesh. As many as half are children. Starvation and disease looms.
“The armed forces of Myanmar used an Aug. 25 incident as pretext to unleash an orchestrated ethnic-cleansing campaign, burning villages, killing and intimidating Rohingya civilians. The goal is evidently to expel or eliminate this long-resident people, now scapegoated as illegal immigrants.
“Myanmar’s civilian government is sidelined, but it did claim all residents would be protected, citizens or not – yet it said refugees won’t be allowed back without papers! But Myanmar’s government has systematically stripped the Rohingya of their citizenship and confiscated their papers, – actions that should have been recognizable as steps toward today’s ‘final-solution’ campaign.
“This Saturday, UN Secretary-General Guterres said Myanmar must cease the violence and guarantee the refugees’ right of return. Guterres urged Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s civilian leader, to seize the ‘last chance’ to reverse course, or the catastrophe may be ‘irreversible.’
“If no reversal comes, an ominous precedent is set of impunity for grave crimes against humanity. Further likely outcomes include the destabilization of the region, and more conflict and terror worldwide.”